Skip to content

Ten veterans to watch now that football is back

mcnabb-getty Getty Images

During a stint last Thursday guest-hosting The Dan Patrick Show, I filled up some of the three-hour tour by talking about five players who intrigue me heading into the 2011 league year.

For these purposes, I’ve taken that five and added five, finishing up with a more familiar list of 10.

And here they are.

1.  Tiki Barber.

Tiki’s tale of football redemption could become one of the most intriguing story lines of the season.

If anyone offers him a contract.

A couple of teams supposedly are interested, and Tiki’s agent has declared that they know where Tiki will play.  But the two teams in which he has expressed the most interest — the Buccaneers and the Steelers — may not be interested in him.

His obvious goal is to restore relevance, and then possibly to relaunch a media career that begins with slightly lower expectations.  The first question is whether he’ll get that chance.

2.  Kevin Kolb.

Based on the manner in which the Eagles have gotten the absolute most out of every quarterback that has taken the field under coach Andy Reid, why is there a presumption that Kevin Kolb constitutes a can’t-miss proposition?

No offense to Kolb, but his (limited) achievements could be chalked up to the coaching in Philly, given that the coaching in in Philly has done wonders since 1999 with a laundry list of signal-callers.

Sure, even if Kolb is 75 percent in Arizona of what he was in Philly, Kolb will still be better than anything the Cardinals had last year.  But given the manner in which the Eagles have grifted the likes of the Dolphins out of a second-round pick for A.J. Feeley and the Redskins out of a two and a four for a possibly washed-up Donovan McNabb, buyer beware are the operative buzzwords.

3.  Donovan McNabb.

Speaking of McNabb, Adam Schefter of ESPN said earlier this morning on Mike & Mike in the Morning that Redskins coach Mike Shanahan wants to get a draft pick for McNabb.  Schefter, who once wrote a book with Shanahan and who thus knows a little more than the rest of us about Shanahan’s thinking, speculated that Shanahan would want something like a fifth-round selection that could increase to a fourth-rounder based on McNabb’s play in 2011.

But McNabb will want out ASAFP, and he won’t be inclined to restructure a contract that pays him $12.5 million this year.

The Redskins eventually will cut McNabb before Week One, at which time the $12.5 million will be fully owed.  McNabb will want the Redskins to do it now, so that he can find a new chair before the music stops.

And so it could get ugly, quickly, in D.C., with a two-ring training camp circus featuring McNabb and Albert Haynesworth trying their best to get out of town, and Shanahan trying his best to show them who’s boss.

4.  Vince Young.

The Titans have made clear their desire to trade or cut Vince Young, the third overall pick in the 2006 draft.  Under the 2011 transition rules, the Titans will have to cut Young by Friday at 4:00 p.m. ET, if they can’t trade him.  Otherwise, they’ll owe him a $4.25 million roster bonus.

Chances are that Young will be cut, and then the question will become whether he can get it done in a new city.

A couple of high-profile occasions on which Young couldn’t handle adversity have overcome the situations in which he has handled prosperity.  At the time his 2010 season ended with an injury to his thumb and a shoe to his butt from former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, Young’s passer rating was perched at 98.6.

Can we be sure that Young’s bad reaction to periodic rough spots can be blamed only on Young?  What if Young were playing for a head coach who knew how to press the right buttons, in order to get him through the inevitable challenges of playing quarterback in the NFL?

It could be that it’s all Young.  But there aren’t enough good quarterbacks to go around, Young has been a good quarterback, and if there’s a head coach who can better manage Young, he could still do a lot of good things in the NFL.

5.  Peyton Manning.

Colts owner Jim Irsay has declared for months that Peyton Manning’s next contract will be the biggest contract in league history.  Now that Irsay is staring down the barrel of a $120 million cap limit with more than $23 million devoted to Manning, the owner is tapping the brakes.

For Manning, the question becomes whether he’ll make another money grab, or whether he’ll give the Colts enough cap space to get him the help he needs in order to build a better on-field legacy.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, and Manning could take a big hit in the eyes of the fan base if he holds out into the preseason while he waits for a new deal.

6.  Plaxico Burress.

Plaxico Burress seems to be interested in every team other than the Giants.  The Giants, surprisingly, could be interested in Plaxico Burress, based on recent comments from co-owner John Mara.

In the end, the question comes down to Plaxico’s priorities.  He has said he wants to play for a coach who cares, and a quarterback who can bring it.  Money is surely a factor, as is Plaxico’s spot on the depth chart.

Teams will be interested.  Burress must then compare the opportunities to his priorities.  When he does, the decision will be easier than a decision not to take a loaded gun into a Manhattan nightclub.

OK, maybe it won’t be an easy decision.

7.  Reggie Bush.

The Saints owe Bush a base salary of $11.8 million in 2011.  He won’t make that much money.

The question becomes whether whatever money he makes will be made in New Orleans or elsewhere.

If he wants out, all he has to do is do nothing.  The Saints surely won’t keep him past Week One, at which time that $11.8 million salary becomes guaranteed.  There’s a good chance the Saints won’t even bring him into the building for training camp absent a new deal, given that a torn ACL or a busted Achilles’ would likely lead to $11.8 million making its way to Bush’s back pocket.

He’s worth more to the Saints than he is to any other team.  But would he take less elsewhere for a fresh start?  Lately, he has been saying all the right things.  In the end, all that matters is whether he’ll say “yes” when the Saints extend their best offer for a reduced salary in 2011.

8.  Ike Taylor.

Yeah, Nnamdi Asomugha has become the crown jewel of the 2011 free agency class.  Sure, Antonio Cromartie gets more buzz.  But Ike Taylor quietly has become one of the names to watch in free agency.

If the Steelers wanted to keep their No. 1 corner, the Steelers would have signed him before he made it to free agency.

And if Taylor wanted to stay, he wouldn’t be publicly declaring his intention to go to the highest bidder.

Making the situation even more intriguing is the fact that Taylor quietly is held in high regard by some of the coaches who are familiar with his style of play over the last eight seasons.  He consistently faces the top receiver on the opposing team, and he can handle press coverage effectively, allowing the Steelers to keep offenses guessing as to whether Taylor will run with the receiver, or whether he’ll release his man after applying a jam and occupy a short zone.

With the Ravens dumping salaries, some fans think they’re making room for Asomugha.  Given that the Ravens have seen twice (and sometimes thrice) per year what Ike can do, maybe he’s the guy they’re truly after.

9.  Matthew Hasselbeck.

Despite the belief that the long-time Seahawks starter will jump to the Titans and that the 49ers will keep Alex Smith, there’s an emerging belief that Hasselbeck will slide down the coast, joining forces with Jim Harbaugh.

Whether Hasselbeck goes to San Fran or to Arizona, staying in the NFC West could be his best move.  The team with the best quarterback play will likely win James Carville’s favorite division, and Hasselbeck could relish the Favre-style opportunity to stick it to a team that no longer wanted him.

Either way, it’s rare that a quarterback who has started a Super Bowl is available in free agency.  Surely, there will be a market for his services.

10.  Chris Johnson.

The Titans’ key player won’t be a free agent for two more seasons, and therein lies the problem.

Johnson wants much more than the last two seasons of his rookie deal will pay him, and for good reason.  He has become one of the best players in the league.  After two more years, Johnson will have less tread on the tires — and thus less reason to justify big money.

So now is the time to get paid.  A holdout is virtually guaranteed, and it could get as ugly as last year’s Darrelle Revis debacle.

Permalink 22 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Features, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Sprint Football Live - Rumors, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Top Stories, Washington Redskins
22 Responses to “Ten veterans to watch now that football is back”
  1. berniemadoffsides says: Jul 26, 2011 9:06 AM

    Tiki will be a Steeler. You can bank on that.

  2. billinva says: Jul 26, 2011 9:08 AM

    1. No one cares about Tiki Barber.

    2. If Peyton goes for another money grab it proves he’s just out for himself.

  3. seneca1ss says: Jul 26, 2011 9:21 AM

    Tiki Barber has rec’d millions of $ worth of FREE P.R.
    “Mission Accomplished”

  4. jw731 says: Jul 26, 2011 9:21 AM

    Oh look Skins fans…….They “hope” to get a 5th round pick for the savior you aquired why just last year….Those were good times huh, when you aquired old # 5……Remember how you all proclaimed it highway robbery?…Now, he’s available for practice squad fodder…..I don’t know whats more funny, the fact that Reid should have worn a ski mask while doing that deal, or why fans continue to support a team that has no idea whatsoever what the hell it is doing……

  5. pitch87mph says: Jul 26, 2011 9:28 AM

    The part about Peyton Manning holding out is patently ridiculous. He’s going to report for that guaranteed $23 million. It’s not like he’s in Chris Johnson’s situation where he’d be vastly underpaid. He’ll still be the top paid QB in the league. And as some pundit reported, a long-term deal would likely be something akin to three one-year deals anyway, where the Colts would have some injury projection. If he DID hold out, that to me would indicate the neck is a bigger issue than he’s letting on and he’s looking for as much guaranteed money as possible. But if it’s nothing to be worried about long-term (or at least for the rest of his NFL career) then the odds of Peyton holding out are about as high as the odds of the Colts releasing him. Doing a long-term deal would be a FAVOR to the Colts. Notwithstanding the new rules about franchising a player multiple times (where did this end up?), I’m sure Peyton would have no problem playing this year at $23 million, and then take a 20% raise each of the next two years (assuming he’s still effective–and there’s little reason to think he won’t be. He doesn’t take many hits, his O-Line figures to be much improved, and as far as anyone can tell, there’s nothing wrong with his arm).

  6. CKL says: Jul 26, 2011 9:29 AM

    Muck as Jeff Fisher fails to impress me I don’t think any coach should have to put up with one of his players saying “I QUIT ON YOU” in front of the entire lockerroom. Nor should their mental state have to be monitored every second because they are fragile. VY is severely immature and entitled. For the sake of his football career and life, HE has to look in the mirror and not like what he sees first before anyone else can help him IMO.

  7. ytsejamer1 says: Jul 26, 2011 9:29 AM

    I don’t know about you, but as a Pats fan, I’m ready to see the Curtis Painter era begin in Indy!!! Who’s with me?!?!?!? :)

  8. bcjim says: Jul 26, 2011 9:36 AM

    Nobody wants to watch the first 4 players on this list. Please revise.

  9. mswravens says: Jul 26, 2011 9:42 AM

    I highly doubt the Ravens are dumping salary to get Nnamdi or any other corner. I’d say they’re clearing room to re-sign their own & then add a DE/OLB, or RT…and now a WR as well. If they are going to sign any big names, I would find a rush end or rush OLB much more likely.

  10. MichaelEdits says: Jul 26, 2011 9:43 AM

    The biggest problem with Tiki’s desire to restore relevance is that he’s never had any relevance to begin with.

  11. Derty Ernie says: Jul 26, 2011 9:53 AM

    If I was Peyton I would have to greedily go for the bucks. Getting to old to sit back and take a pay cut. He already has a ring and a decent team around him so this time its got to be about him and I don’t actually Blaim him.

  12. stunzeed5 says: Jul 26, 2011 10:04 AM

    Don’t for a second think that ShannyAllen don’t hold all the cards in the above scenario, they are a fertile brain trust of outstanding ideas; the creme-de-le-creme of smart decisions. The Redskins are already back on the road to respectability. Everyone sees it aside from jw731, who was nice enough to stop watching replays of the WNBA All-Star game to join the big boys and talk NFL football.

  13. karlpilkington says: Jul 26, 2011 10:05 AM

    jw731 says:
    Jul 26, 2011 9:21 AM
    Oh look Skins fans…….They “hope” to get a 5th round pick for the savior you aquired why just last year….Those were good times huh, when you aquired old # 5……Remember how you all proclaimed it highway robbery?…Now, he’s available for practice squad fodder…..I don’t know whats more funny, the fact that Reid should have worn a ski mask while doing that deal, or why fans continue to support a team that has no idea whatsoever what the hell it is doing……

    103 i
    Rate This

    I just love how people “THINK” they could do a better job than people who have won superbowls and have spent their who life in football. You sir, are an idiot and could not scout my sons peewee football team. DUMMY!

  14. berniemadoffsides says: Jul 26, 2011 10:05 AM

    @ MichaelEdits :

    Dude, Tiki was absolutely RIDICULOUS in the last five seasons of his career. From 2002-2006, he averaged over 1,500 yards rushing, 4.8 YPC, 60 catches, and 500 yards receiving, and 9 total TD’s per year. So in five seasons, over 10,000 yards and 45 TD’s.

    Yeah, I’d say he was pretty relevant back in the day…

  15. hockeygoalie29 says: Jul 26, 2011 10:16 AM

    Either way, it’s rare that a quarterback who has started a Super Bowl is available in free agency.

    And look, this year there’s TWO! I can’t wait to see how many teams are beating down the door to Rex’s house to get themselves a Super Bowl caliber quarterback.

  16. 1bigtex says: Jul 26, 2011 10:22 AM

    Can we lose the “Tiki Barber” stories. I mean let’s get real. The dude is a 36 year-old RB who is 5 years removed from the game. I seriously doubt that he has enough gas left in the tank to get around the block, mush less contribute to a good team. Don’t most back-up RBs have to play Special Teams? Anybody want Barber covering kicks for their squad.
    Tiki, come on guy, it’s over. It was over a long time ago. Go coach high school, or sell cars, or maybe insurance, but give up this notion of playing in the NFL again. It must have been nice to have the spotlight on you for awhile, but it ain’t ever coming back.

  17. oldbyrd says: Jul 26, 2011 10:26 AM

    It’s time for tiki to take up barbering….he is washed up an ready to learn the new trade

  18. deadmanwalking47 says: Jul 26, 2011 11:12 AM

    “If Peyton goes for another money grab it proves he’s just out for himself.”

    well why else would he ask for more money dingbat?

  19. blackqbwhiterb says: Jul 26, 2011 11:22 AM

    McNabb, get the hell outta DC, and take anyone who thinks you can win with you. I DO know better than Shanny and Allen, because I could see from my living room, beer in hand, that he wasn’t going to be any good, and Shanny did NOT…so there….
    Now watch the Redskins sign Vince Young or Tavaris Jackson and continue to suck, and Blaine Gabbert turn out to be the next great QB in the NFL……

  20. 1bigtex says: Jul 26, 2011 11:26 AM

    @stunzeed5

    “the creme-de-le-creme of smart decisions”

    Oh really? You would please be so kind as to explain how the McNabb trade was a smart decision? Of course, you’ll also need to explain how signing him to an extension that makes him virtually untradeable was smart as well. While we’re on the smart decision front, how about the decision to try to go into a season with Portis, LJ, and Fast Willie as your RBs. Smart? Of course, I’ll also need some clarification on the WR corps of Santana Moss and six guys named Herb. That decision looks “genius”.

    Regarding that “already on the road back to respectability” observation, would that be because they’ve got John Beck and a bunch of late round draft picks?

  21. NFLJunkie says: Jul 26, 2011 12:55 PM

    Can we be sure that Young’s bad reaction to periodic rough spots can be blamed only on Young?  What if Young were playing for a head coach who knew how to press the right buttons, in order to get him through the inevitable challenges of playing quarterback in the NFL?

    Fisher is far from perfect but player after player who have played for him speak highly of his ability to push the right buttons in the locker room. It’s much, much harder to find guys who over the last 15+ years, just couldn’t mesh with Fisher. The guys Fisher is unfailingly loyal to, and that included McNair even when so many “fans” wanted Neil O’Donnell to stay in the lineup when McNair came back from injury in ’99, are the guys who don’t know the meaning of the word “quit”.

    So yeah, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this one’s on Young more than it is Fisher. But good for Young if he can grow up enough to face his own shortcomings, so he doesn’t bring them to his next team.

  22. brintfatre says: Jul 27, 2011 9:03 AM

    Does Kolb really qualify as a veteran???

    Manning will posture and spin things in the media, but there’s no way he’s leaving the Colts unless it’s to move to a team in the NFC West. He doesn’t have the talent to make it in a division with other teams that are competitive and he knows it!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!